DeKalb Market Hall creator bringing new food hall to Midtown

Boston Properties inks lease with operator at the Citigroup Building; broker claims landlord squeezed him out of the deal

Anna Castelini and 601 Lexington Avenue (Credit: LinkedIn and Andrew Moore via Flickr)
Anna Castelini and 601 Lexington Avenue (Credit: LinkedIn and Andrew Moore via Flickr)

Manhattan’s iconic Citigroup Center is about to get a taste of Brooklyn.

The creator behind Downtown Brooklyn’s DeKalb Market Hall is opening a 10,000-square-foot food hall at the base of the Midtown East tower at 601 Lexington Avenue, The Real Deal has learned.

Anna Castellani, who opened the 40 vendor Brooklyn market in 2017, signed a lease with Boston Properties to bring her newest concept to the retail annex tucked 59 stories below the landmarked building’s 45-degree sloping roof.

The new hall will be dubbed “The Hugh” and is scheduled to open in three or four months.

Representatives for Boston Properties did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Castellani’s company, Local Culture Management, declined.

The lease for the space has a term of 15 years and is valued at more than $1 million per year. The new deal is not without controversy, however.

Larry Roberts, a broker at Arch Brokerage, claims he represented Castellani in negotiations with Boston Properties and that the landlord cut him out of his commission on the deal. Arch filed a lawsuit against the real estate investment trust seeking $770,000 in compensation.

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“Arch Brokerage did the work and should have gotten paid for it,” said Alan Sash, Arch’s attorney at Manhattan based McLaughlin & Stern. “They didn’t, and that’s why the lawsuit was filed.”

In Brooklyn, the DeKalb Market Hall features stalls from vendors like Jackson Heights’ famous Arepa Lady, Katz Deli and Guss’ Pickles spread across 27,000 square feet at the City Point Center.

Across the city, landlords have brought in food halls as amenities to help draw and retain tenants to their office properties. Popular examples include the Hudson Eats marketplace at Brookfield Office Properties’ Brookfield Place and The Pennsy at Vornado Realty Trust’s Penn Plaza.

Just two blocks from Boston Properties’ Citigroup Building, the Feil Organization signed the Urbanspace market to an 11,000-plus square-foot space at 570 Lexington Avenue in 2017.

Boston Properties has had its eye out for a destination-type food attraction for at least the past three years, ever since it shut down the listless Atrium Shops and Cafes in 2016 as part of a major redevelopment of its 1.6 million-square-foot Citigroup Center between Lexington and Third avenues.

The REIT committed $150 million three years ago to reposition the annex building at the Citigroup Tower and gut renovate its retail spaces.

The landlord last year signed NYU Langone to the entire 200,000-square-foot renovated atrium portion of the property. Chicago-based law firm Kirkland & Ellis in 2017 expanded its footprint to more than half a million square feet inside at 601 Lexington, which the city had landmarked the year earlier.